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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 16) – The Indonesian Human Rights group TAPOL has voiced concern about statements by Indonesia’s defence minister defending the current restrictions on access to Papua province for foreign journalists.

[PIR editor’s note: The Indonesian word "tapol" means political prisoner.]

The restrictions appear also to apply to foreign NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and churches whose presence, according to Minister Juwono Sudarsono, might create conflict by encouraging Papuans to campaign on issues of human rights.

TAPOL questions that the government is worried about Papuans campaigning on human rights issues, especially as Indonesia has now ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The NGO says that hearing the defence minister speak about the need to maintain these curbs reinforces the impression that Papua is effectively under the control of the Indonesian military.

TAPOL says there can be no justification for any restrictions on access to Papua, either for foreign journalists or for church representatives and NGOs.

February 17, 2006

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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